Feature Story from 2000
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If the start of fall were determined by hardwoods, fall came a couple months early across much of Mississippi this year.
Hardwoods began showing fall yellows, oranges and browns and dropping leaves by early September this summer, about six weeks ahead of schedule. Stephen Dicke, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said these trees weren't necessarily dying from the drought.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers are finding that heat didn't hurt this year's rice crop, as yields are looking good near the end of harvest.
A wet spring meant a late rice planting, so harvest is a little behind schedule, but about 75 to 80 percent of the state's acreage was out of the field by early October. Last year Mississippi harvested 323,000 acres of rice.
Joe Street, Extension rice specialist at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said most producers are satisfied with yields expected to average 5,800 pounds an acre.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new program at Mississippi State University is helping forest products graduates find good jobs without leaving the state.
This fall, MSU's Department of Forest Products acting through the College of Forest Resources created four new emphasis areas within the forest products degree. This was done to expand the career field for its graduates.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Youth develop communication skills, responsibility, critical thinking skills and discipline while preparing livestock for statewide competitions each October and February.
The Mississippi State Fair in Jackson each October gives Mississippi 4-Hers an opportunity to compete in a state livestock show. For some youth, the attraction to the State Fair is the rides, the international entertainers or the art exhibits, but many 4-Hers, it is the opportunity to show off their hard work from the preceding year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mother Nature pulled a cruel trick on growers of Mississippi's non-irrigated pumpkins, and the few treats available after the hot, dry summer will be found in patches with access to water.
David Nagel, vegetable specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said growers irrigate less than 100 acres of Mississippi's 480 commercial pumpkin acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The South is the nation's fastest growing area, which means Southerners face urban growth issues more often than do communities elsewhere.
Lori Garkovich, professor of rural sociology at the University of Kentucky, said whether urban growth is viewed as positive or negative depends on the individual. In a report published by the Southern Rural Development Center headquartered at Mississippi State University, Garkovich said issues surrounding such growth can tear a community apart or galvanize it into action.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Help is just a phone call away for Coast gardeners with questions.
A pilot program is wrapping up at the end of October that offered toll-free telephone answers to gardening questions. Master Gardeners, gardening experts trained by Mississippi State University's Extension Service, manned the phones six hours a day, serving residents of Jackson, Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River and Stone counties.
Chance McDavid, Harrison County Extension agent, patterned the new program after an existing, highly successful program in Alabama.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Injured or seemingly abandoned baby animals may tug at heart strings, but wildlife specialists encourage people to resist the temptation to become the babies' surrogate mother.
"Many times we find wild baby animals alone in our yard or in the surrounding woods and presume them to be abandoned, but actually these animals are generally being taken care of just as they should be," said Dean Stewart, Extension associate with Mississippi State University's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The damaging effects of this year's drought may not be confined to the 2000 pecan crop as the stressed trees also may lack the energy to produce big yields next year.
Like other trees in the state, some pecans went dormant early to protect themselves from a fate worse than just losing leaves.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Insects are not usually something people try to keep alive, but an international group of specialists met in Starkville recently to learn the best ways to raise bugs.
Rearing healthy insects is not as easy as it sounds. Elaborate systems and equipment are needed, along with climate- controlled environments, special diets and close monitoring. Most people in the business learn on the job and from colleagues, as little if any formal training exists.
HATTIESBURG -- At-risk youth in a residential, military-style program in South Mississippi are learning gardening as part of training to get them back on the straight and narrow.
The Pine Belt Master Gardeners meet once a week with young people in the Youth Challenge Program at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg. The Master Gardeners spend the morning helping the youth with a gardening project, and the afternoon instructing them in landscape maintenance and basic conservation.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Even though babies have their own special language and preschoolers may struggle saying big words, parents and teachers can communicate with children.
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said children learn to communicate by imitating the speech and behavior of adults.
To achieve good communication with children, adults should get on a child's level, but use some of the same principles of courtesy and respect as when communicating with adults.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- After a summer of extreme heat and dry conditions, Mississippi cotton farmers now battle low yields, low quality and low prices.
Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said dry weather helped mature cotton faster, which is why more than 90 percent of harvest was complete in Mississippi by the end of October. Typically, harvest is 84 percent complete by this time. Because cotton matured early, yields and quality suffered.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Kids across the state are learning from Master Gardeners the power plants have to beautify their surroundings.
In Meridian, Master Gardeners have teamed up with the Meridian Public School District's Parents As Teachers program to offer a gardening project. Cathy Trawick works with the school program and also is a Master Gardener. She works out of an office in a public housing project.
By Maridith Geuder
MSU University Relations
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- In a new study exploring the state's future employment opportunities for people leaving welfare, a Mississippi State research scientist finds good and not-so-good news.
Frank Howell, a professor in Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center, reports a promising picture in some parts of Mississippi. In other areas, he predicts a shortage of jobs matching the skill and educational levels of those in the labor market.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A dead animal dumped along a highway or a river bank decreases Mississippi's aesthetic appeal, and breaks new laws concerning proper disposal.
Proper disposal of dead animals is not just an issue for hunters. Disposal laws include all kinds of animals from pets to livestock.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Homeowners are cautioned every year to keep their Christmas trees watered, but growers are the one's needing that advice this year.
Steve Dicke, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said this year's drought also could reduce the longevity of Christmas trees after harvesting.
"Trees won't be as healthy as normal, so they may dry out faster after harvest making water in the tree stand even more important this year," Dicke said. "On the other hand, it will be more water than they've seen in awhile."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sometimes even Santa says no to good children.
"One of the hardest things a parent has to do is say no to the pleading eyes of a son or daughter," said Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
The stress of the holiday season can make parenting decisions even more challenging. While conceding to a child's wants may provide momentary relief, it may cause greater burdens in the future.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Marking the holidays with food, family, more food and more guests is usually enjoyable for the guests, but it can be a hassle to the hosts.
Cooking for a crowd is not a task for the faint hearted. Menus must be carefully planned, entertainment coordinated, guest lists drawn up and accommodations arranged. While a primary concern often is how to do this without blowing the budget, a secondary concern is how to do this while staying sane.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said since mail-order food gifts are increasing in popularity, consumers need to be aware of the precautions necessary to mail a perishable item.